Tue, Nov 30, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Fred Couples wins a fifth Skins Game

AP , LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA

Fred Couples, right, taps fists with Tiger Woods after birdie putt on the 10th hole to win 8 skins and US$300,000 during the final round of the Skins Game at the Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, California on Sunday. Couples won a total of US$640,000.

PHOTO: AP

Fred Couples continued his amazing run Sunday, prevailing in four playoff holes over Tiger Woods to claim the final three skins and US$340,000, and win his fifth Skins Game with a total of US$640,000.

Couples won all his money on Sunday, starting with a birdie putt worth US$300,000 and eight skins on the first hole. He finally won the tournament after Woods' tee shot went into the water on the last playoff hole, the par-3, 204-yard 17th at Trilogy Golf Club on a cold, windy day in the desert.

Although the Silly Season tournament turned serious -- Woods hit the ground with an iron and both players looked tight after missing putts that would have won it -- Couples and Woods jokingly walked arm-in-arm down the final fairway.

All Couples had to do to win it was two-putt.

Couples, 45, has won a record US$3.515 million and 77 skins in 11 appearances in the tournament.

Woods finished second with five skins and US$310,000, more money than he won in his previous four Skins Games combined.

After making a sensational Skins Game debut last year, Annika Sorenstam was shut out this time. She and Australia Adam Scott were eliminated on the first playoff hole. Scott won two skins and US$50,000 on Saturday, when the first nine holes were played. No one else collected money on Day 1.

Woods' best chance to win the playoff came on the second extra hole, the 17th, when he followed a great tee shot by rolling a 10-foot birdie putt just left of the cup.

Woods struggled with his putter the whole weekend.

On the third extra hole, the par-5, 524-yard 18th, Woods left his 15-foot birdie putt short and Couples rolled his 12-footer left. Both players looked tense. A few minutes earlier, Woods angrily hit the ground with his iron after his shot from the left rough stayed left and landed in the rough just in front of the green.

Back on the 17th tee for the fourth playoff hole, Woods pushed his shot left and into the lake on the left side of the fairway. Couples played it safe for the win.

Couples won last year's Merrill Lynch Skins Game in a four-hole playoff.

He jumped to a quick lead this time on Sunday's first hole, the par-4, 446-yard 10th, by curling in a 27-foot birdie putt worth US$300,000. Of that, US$250,000 was a carryover from Saturday.

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